The Insiders Guide to Gay Pittsburgh

Whether it’s your first time visiting our magnificent city or whether you’re returning, we want to welcome you and offer you a glimpse into Pittsburgh’s gay scene. One thing’s for sure…there’s something here for everyone. While you’ll want to take part in all of the Pride 2014 festivities when you’re hear, here’s a guide to where you’ll find Pittsburgh’s most popular bars and restaurants.

If you’re in the downtown area, you’ll want to head to Liberty Avenue, which just so happens to be where the Pride in the Street and Pride Fest take place. There Ultra Lounge, with it’s two floors, provides enough space to see a drag show, catch some amateur stripping or partake in an evening of karaoke. You can cruise on down the street to 941 (“The Saloon”) where you can hear a live DJ, be served by one of the topless shot boys or play the jukebox on a less crowded evening. Upstairs is Tilden, an after-hours, members only dance club (can join on the spot). And on the same street, down a little further, there’s Images. Images is newly remodeled yet still serves as a great spot to meet some down-to-earth locals. There’s a pool table, shot boys, lots of great music, and karaoke on Thursday nights.

If you head into Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District you’ll find The Real Luck Cafe, or as most of us here call it, Lucky’s. If nude male dancers, cheap drinks and friendly service are what you’re looking for you’ll love it here. If you desire a place to dance, meet a pretty girl/handsome man or catch a late-night drag show then stroll around the corner to the only true dance club at Cruze Bar. Cruze offers two bars in two separate rooms so you can choose to sit and socialize in one while your friends are bumping and grinding in the other. Cruze also has the best happy hour in town with $2.50 bottles and cocktails from 7-11 PM Thursday through Saturday. Thursday is a very popular College Night (18+) where the youngsters descend in droves. Cruze also serves as a venue for comedy shows and recently hosted renowned lesbian comedian, Suzanne Westenhoeffer. This is a smoke-free club which makes this girl very happy, but rest assured dear smokers, there is a deck outside where you can puff away, allowing me to go home smelling as good as I did when I walked in. It’s a win-win for all. Also in the Strip District you can find Club Pittsburgh, a men’s-only private club where you can work out, relax and socialize. While I’ve never been inside Club Pittsburgh I’d have to guess that if Brian Kinney really lived here, this is where you’d find him.

If you’re a man into leather Donny’s Place is where it’s at. Donny’s is on Herron Avenue, a short jaunt from the Strip District, and is a casual bar with a pool table, food and darts upstairs and a basement bar called Leather Central. Not far from Donny’s in between the Strip District and Bloomfield (Pittsburgh’s Little Italy) sits Brewers Hotel, a casual and friendly place to have an inexpensive drink. Open daily at 11 AM, be sure to check out their signature Rocket Fuel shot.

Lawrenceville is the place to be these days as new restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores and salons have revived one of the city’s most unique neighborhoods. Check out Blue Moon on Butler Street. Blue Moon offers a diverse crowd, cheap drinks, friendly service and is the home of drag superstar Sharon Needles. Not far from Blue Moon is Cattivo. Cattivo is a two floor bar which provides a dance floor, bar, pool tables, darts and food upstairs and an amazing space downstairs for shows. You’ll find some of the best drag shows at Cattivo. While in the area, be sure to check out Belvedere’s and Brillobox. Both LGBT-friendly, Brillobox is known for their great vegetarian offerings and Belvedere’s is a great dive bar with cheap drinks and you can get your Xanadu on during their monthly roller skating night.

One of the best places here to people watch or to see and be seen is Shadyside, located in the East End of Pittsburgh. Just before you get there, stop by and check out Ptown. Ptown is a place where you can watch sports on TV and fist bump like any mainstream local bar, all while watching hot guys strip in the same room. You won’t find that at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Once you arrive in Shadyside, there are many pet-friendly shops as well as patio-dining all just a stone’s throw from some of the most beautifully restored Victorian mansions in the city. There are many gay-friendly establishments in Shadyside and naturally a couple of good old-fashioned gay bars, all on Ellsworth Avenue. 5801 Video Lounge is one of the best places to enjoy a summer’s night on the back deck where one of their three bars is located. Inside you can choose between the upstairs bar, which is smoke-free, or the downstairs bar where you can smoke and play the jukebox. Across the street lies Spin Bartini, a more upscale establishment. Spin’s dim lighting, relaxed atmosphere and intimate space offers the perfect spot for a summer date. There’s also an outdoor patio in the back. While not a gay bar, Harris Grill is very friendly and attracts many gay girls and guys alike, mostly due to their delicious menu and friendly service. If you’re in the area for brunch, stop in and enjoy their signature frozen cosmopolitan. And don’t forget, Tuesday is Bacon Night. Ellsworth Avenue is hopping with its fair share of fashion boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and eye candy.

We wish you safe travels and hope you make the best of your time here as we celebrate another year of progress in the quest for equality. Happy Pride!!

Chrissy Costa is a local comedian known for her dry wit, satirical style of comedy, and big earrings. Before doing stand-up she studied sketch comedy at Chicago’s famed Second City. You can follow her on Instragram and Facebook. (She / Her / Hers)